Wave Race 64 - A Must Play Game
Nintendo 64 had some great games that defined the system for what it was. Wave Race 64 was one of them.
Wave Race 64
Wave Race 64 is not only a classic but overall one of the better racers released for the Nintendo 64, probably second or third under Mario Kart 64. Crashing and ripping through waves will be an experience to behold in this classic series. Unfortunately, after the Gamecube Wave Race: Blue Storm release, the series was never heard from again (except in the form of wave racing in Wii Sports Resort but it's just not the real wave race).
Wave Race 64 was released about a month after the release of the Nintendo 64, and being early to see the day of light, it's more on the simple side of having a options you can play around with. However, the game is without a doubt, still great with its small amount of options.
To start off, this game has some awesome water physics. Riding those waves on your jet ski feels great, and being able to flip off of one feels better! When racing, whether crashing through waves slows you down or others down for that matter, it's competitive, pure fun all the way through. You are capable of pulling off flips in the air, doing handstands, and more. However, while you race, it's not just a straight forward race; you have to make sure to ride on the correct sides of left and right buoys, and challenge plenty of obstacles.
By playing the first mode, championship mode, you will be able to unlock the stages in the game in which you only start with one. Like Mario Kart 64, there are three modes you can challenge yourself with in any mode, however, to unlock hard and extreme mode, you must complete that rank of championship mode. At the time, this was okay and made an introduction to the games various ways of altering a race just through adding more obstacles, buoys to race by in different areas, and stronger waves. However, as of now, it would have been nice to start with at least three stages rather than one. Though, there are only 9 stages in all, so they had to make it this way.
What's interesting is, before actually starting your first Championship, you get to warm-up in dolphin park to do whatever you like. In other words, you get to free ride as long as you want until you go to the menu and choose to start the race. At the same time while you enjoy free riding, you are instructed on how to do stunts in the game. This is a great feature to add before actually playing the real game and gives the player an idea of what their in for.
There are three other modes to challenge yourself through speed, skill, and competition. Time Trial mode allows you to race against set lap times and your own time to make a record through speed. You can also test your skills in the stunt mode in which on each stage, there are more ramps then usual if there aren't as many, there are rings to go through (optional), a set amount of time to run through check points through the stage, and any tricks you do as you race towards the finish line award you points. Last, there are 2P Vs. mode allowing you to play against a friend in any stage you wish. It's unfortunate that four players wasn't possible, but perhaps it was made this way so players wouldn't be stuck with a character they wouldn't want to choose as they really do differentiate from one another.
What's really interesting in Wave Race 64 is the small customization options the game has. If you choose to, you can change tweak options on your wave craft by using the custom option. This actually makes a significant difference in how you play the game. If you were to adjust the handling all the way to light for instance, you'd find yourself easily turning in place and turning tightly with the slight push of the analog stick. On the other hand, if you were to make the handling heavy, turning would be a little more constricted, especially when you try to turn in place. Through experimentation, you can make yourself even better at the game, as it has done for me.
Another bit of customization you can tweak in the game is through the options menu. You can tweak the stage options to make the waves default, calm, wild, or random, as well as change the amount of times you can miss a buoy or laps you need to finish the race. This alone creates more exciting challenges and keeps the game from becoming dull. All in all, the customization feature is a very good feature too have in such a game as this.
Overall, the best part of the game is literally the race itself. It still feels like a one of a kind game in plenty of ways and if you look at what some videos of players showing off their skills on youtube...trust me, you have a huge competition ahead of you after you beat the game. However, since there's a short amount of things to do in the game, you might stop playing after a few hours and come back to it another day.
The game isn't that hard, and presents a challenge that helps you build your skills up to a point until you need to learn how to exceed yourself. Upon first playing this game as a kid, I guess I did have plenty of troubles in championship mode, but coming back to it, I placed 1st on Normal and Hard, and 2nd on Extreme (I'll touch on this). Aside from normal racing, the main difficulty is really as hard as you want to make it for yourself.
This game has enough customization to really test your skill, not just through modes, but limiting the amount of buoys you can miss, laps you can race, wave strength control, and your own watercraft's custom settings. So don't walk away from this game after beating it and say, "I'm the wave race master." Instead, you should challenge people on youtube, and challenge yourself to see how extreme you really want your race to be.
Now, about extreme mode, or even hard mode for that matter, I'm not sure if this can be experienced by everyone, but the character D. Mariner (David) always happens to be the best racer in the A.I. He is said to be one of the worst characters for championship mode due to his terrible turning ability, yet Mariner happens to be the one who will always be keeping up with you, or leaving you plenty of seconds behind. You hardly need to worry about the other racers honestly. On Vizzed.com, I had lag which helped sometimes, and on Glacier Coast, the last unlockable level, it sped up two times making the race very hard especially against D. mariner.
The controls in Wave Race 64 are in my opinion, great! Somehow, I keep making this comparison between Super Mario 64's controls and Wave Race 64's controls even though they are entirely different games all together. All the stunts and maneuvers are very simple to pull off, so anyone should really enjoy this game.
Wave Race 64 will keep you coming back. Trust me, you will always come back to this game whether it's in a year, a month, a week, or a day. When you feel like racing on top of waves and pulling off stunts, Wave Race 64 will be waiting right there for you on Vizzed, beckoning you to play it until you've exhausted yourself time and time again. The only thing that keeps the game from being overly addicting is the lack of modes and stages. The stages overall are pretty good, but it would be nice if there were more. As for modes, you have time trial, stunt mode, championship, and 2p versus. I guess you can't really ask for more than that but, Wave Race: Blue Storm did add a few more things here and there. At most, you'll play this game for a few hours which might be just right for anyone.
Wave Race 64 came out very early on N64 so at that time, graphics were still being figured out in some ways here and there. I mean, if I were to compare this to Star Fox 64 released a year after, obviously Star Fox 64 looks better, but we are talking around a month after Nintendo 64 was launched. These graphics were amazing when they came out, not to mention...THE WATER!
Honestly, I had never seen water so beautiful in a video game as a child because I was transitioning from the Super Nintendo at the time. Waves didn't even exist in Mario 64, that's what I'm talking about! This game really showed the power of Nintendo 64 at the time, and boy did it make a great impression on me. The water in this game had different hues and etc depending on the stage, and sometimes those waves would go pretty high in certain stages.
Wave Race 64 is also very colorful and has neat stages to race on, like Twilight City, Sunset Bay, and obviously let's not forget Dolphin Park. Not to mention, Dolphins and Whales for the first time in a 3D game, and looking good too (you can ride a dolphin also by the way).
Wave Race 64 actually still looks nice as an N64 game and really defines the system, in my opinion.
Wave Race 64 features short, but neat soundtracks. Many songs in the game are memorable because of this factor. The music in Wave Race 64 consist mostly of Rock and Pop Rock genres, and one Latin style song I can recall from one of the stages. However, the music in general does a good job of emulating a general style that fits the games color and liveliness. In short, the music feels just right for the game.
On the other hand, you have the announcer who encourages you the whole way in the game, and if you hate him, there's unfortunately no option to turn him off. The voice actor is generally very energetic and sympathetic saying things like "Almost had it!" and "BANZAI!" I honestly thought it was a great touch adding an announcer to the game who at least tells you there's always next time when you fail, especially for kids.
The sound effects in the game are simple, yet effective sounds that catch your attention quick. Running into a buoy for instance will make a very interesting bubble balloon-like sound of sorts. The Maximum Power up sound effect allow you to hear the revving up of an engine, where as going on the opposite side of a buoy will, as I can describe it to the best of my ability, make a revving 'down' sound. I honestly wouldn't play without the sound on because not only the music is memorable, but so is the sound effects and the announcer.
Overall: 9 out of 10
I deem Wave Race 64 a must play for anyone. Do not miss out on this game in your life time. At the time, this was a one of a kind game!